Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

This Christmas was pretty awesome. Much different than my usual holiday routine. In years past I always made a point to work the holidays because my family is crazy and it was just easier to volunteer to work.
This year though it was infinitely different... having Chris and his family was wonderful. In some ways bittersweet because it made me acutely aware of what I had been missing for so long. A feeling of Christmas joy that I have not allowed myself to feel for quite a few years now but this year it came in full force. I am one lucky girl to have such amazing future in-laws. :)

Sadly, at some point during the festivities I managed to lose my camera bag at their house. Luckily, I still have my camera but it means that my camera battery, extra lens and cable are no where to be found. Which basically means that I have no pictures of this holiday because my camera is dead.
The only two survivors are pics from my iPhone.
1)The awesome Christmas fort I built in my room. I knew having a canopy bed would pay off someday. There is something magical about Christmas lights around you when you're falling asleep. :)
2) The best Christmas present ever. When Chris bought my engagement ring he purposely picked out a plain band... that way we could go back together and pick out a setting. He got me the most beautiful one ever and it's great because I can more safely wear it at work without it snagging on everything now!
Luckiest. girl. ever.
Merry Late Christmas Friends! How was your holiday?

Friday, December 23, 2011

It ain't about me... or is it?

Warning: I'm about to get brutally honest here so hang in there with me... this won't be one of those mushy "nursing is so great!" posts.... cause truth be told, nursing has not been so great recently. In fact it's been tedious at best. I have not been at my best recently either. I'm tired and to be honest I'm a little bored these days. I find myself counting down the minutes until my shifts are over and my fuse has grown short with people.
I have to say that there are a lot of times in my job when I take things personally even though I have no business doin' so. In my line of work you deal with people at their worst. Sick, broken and teetering on the edge of life and death.
For some reason, recently people have been straight up crazy though. Like kickin', hollerin' and bein' down right mean -crazy. Most of me gets it. I get that when you are at your worst you don't have much to give, especially if you really aren't in your right mind... which happens a lot in these parts. There is a reason ICU delirium is a legit diagnosis.
Most of the time I'd like to think that I handle these situations okay. I see what happens when people get defensive and try to argue instead of understanding. It just doesn't work and usually it just makes the patient angry and you more frustrated. If I was in that hospital bed who knows how I would be? Just take a look at me around 4:00am on any given night shift and you'd probably have a slight clue.
Lately I have been in this weird place. Apathetic in a sort of way to what goes on around me. You see sickness and death all of the time so when a patient comes in with cancer that has ravaged their face you aren't moved the way you once were. Or when a patient with severe pulmonary disease is throwing the biggest fit in the world because they have to be on an obnoxious bipap mask all night... you tend to not have as much sympathy as you once did.
No... now I find myself annoyed at every call light I have to answer. Tired of the same old routine that doesn't challenge my brain but injures my back and zaps every ounce of energy I have left. Frustrated because I can't understand what my patient is trying to say... it's difficult when you've had half your tongue removed, ya know? That is not what crosses my mind though... the fact that he is angrily pointing at these scribbled, jumbled letters on a piece of paper like I am supposed to magically understand them... that is what I see. Frustration and pain and exhaustion... from both parties.
Finally I discern what he is trying to convey...

"It hurts when I swallow... is that ok?"

"Yes, that's totally normal." I nod my head eagerly. 

Relieved to finally be able to communicate, the man breaks down in tears and starts profusely apologizing.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." he mouths as he lays his head back on his pillow.
The floodgates have now opened and I instantly feel like a horrible person.
He knew I was getting frustrated too and I probably could have done a lot more to hide that fact. To have patience and understanding for a man who is battling the big C and now has a very long and brutal recovery ahead. Today I will go home and I will crawl into bed a healthy person... sleeping in my own house peacefully.
This man will not.
He will not have anything close to that and the least I could have done was given him a little room to be frustrated without me being annoyed or inconvenienced back.

I told him that he did not have to ever apologize to me for something like that. I held his hand and told him that I was sorry too.

The worst part of it all is that I don't really know what to do from here. I come to work every day. I do my job as best I can but I'm realizing that my best sometimes just isn't what it should be. I am tired... all the time. I am bored with my job and don't feel challenged but I have no desire to change. I am holding it together on the surface just fine but inside I feel like something just isn't right. And I can't help but wonder if the problem is everything else or if it starts right here... with me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

So you want to run a marathon?

When I first considered running a marathon, even I thought I was crazy. After running my first half marathon with barely a year of solid running under my belt and virtually no training plan in place, I was lucky to still be standing. Still, I had caught the bug and within a month of that first 13.1 mile endeavor I began training for my first marathon. Little did I know I would be doing three in just 2 months time.

All that to say that I have learned a few things along the way and I've been wanting to do a post about it for those of you out there who are like me... thinking that running 26.2 miles is impossible. Well not anymore! It's definitely hard... but not impossible.

These are a few tips that I have learned along the way.
First things first:
1. Be sure you have a baseline fitness level. If you can run more than 3-5 miles non-stop you are ready to begin marathon training. I would highly recommend that you see your physician before starting any vigorous training regimen though, especially one as taxing as marathon running. Most people say that a full year of regular running is good to start out with. I had been running very regularly for about 7 months before I began my marathon training but I got away with it by choosing a very gradual, 7 month training plan that didn't push my limits. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. You will know whats right for you.

2. Choose the right training plan! I can't emphasize this enough. If you are incredibly fit and have been running races for a while... sure, maybe 12 weeks is the perfect amount of time for marathon training. For the rest of us... not so much. I am here to tell you that this one thing can make all the difference. I am not a natural-born runner. I am short and stalky and I run slower than a turtle in quicksand (for most running standards). Seriously I run 10-14 minute miles depending on the distance I run. The only time I broke a 6 hour marathon time was during my training run. That being said... I still was able to run 3 marathons in two months and I did it with virtually no injuries at all. I completely credit it to the training plan I chose. If you want tips on finding the running plan that's right for you check out, or

3. Have a reason to run. Set a goal. Find a friend to run with. Do anything and everything to remember why you want to do this because trust me... when you are on mile 18 of your long run and your feet feel like anchors and your legs feel like they will break with another step... you need to have something to hold onto to keep moving, especially during training. Either that or you need a person to hold onto (literally or not) to remind you that you can and  actually do want to finish 26.2 miles.

4. Run each long run as if it is your race. There are many facets to marathon training. The obvious ones are that you build endurance, gain muscle and mental stamina to finish the race. The other parts of training are that you're getting out all the kinks BEFORE you actually run the race... that way race day is as smooth and painless as possible. Try out different routines, different pre-run meals, snacks, energy drinks, clothing, shoes, music, etc. All of those little details will make running so much better and your race that much easier. Once you find out what works DO NOT change it (unless of course it stops working). Especially do not change it on race day. Don't go buy new shoes or socks the day before, just stick to what works.

5. Invest in some good gear! The right gear can make all the difference. Some good compression pants/shorts are a worthy investment. A reliable GPS watch is a must in my book. Garmin and Timex both make some great products and it doesn't need to be fancy but being able to track your split times and distance are key to making sure you are on track with your training. Cytomax makes a great electrolyte drink and GU gels were my favorite mid-run fuel snack. Try out different things during training but make sure you are well stocked on race day. During one of my races the aid stations ran out of water and electrolytes.... it was a good thing I had my own water bottle and cytomax powder on me or I would have died after mile 10. Keep a few band aids in your pocket as well... you never know when those might come in handy. ;)

6. Choose the right race. Before you decide when and where to run your first marathon, remember to keep a few things in mind. What is the course like? Are there a lot of hills or is it flat? Is it trail or is it pavement or both? What is the climate like? What time of year will it be? Try to pick a place that is most similar to where you will be doing the majority of your training runs. If possible try not to make your first race one that you will have to travel long distances for. If you do travel, be sure to allow your self ample time to rest before race day.

7. Prepare for race day. Before each race I run, whether short or long, I have a routine. If I am doing a large race that has an expo I always make sure and set out all my gear before I head to the expo. That way if I am missing anything I can pick it up there instead of finding out at 10pm after all the stores are closed. If possible I try to drive to the start line so I won't be navigating completely new territory on race morning. Study the course map and familiarize yourself with the terrain. Go to bed early but don't worry if you hardly sleep at all the night before. Most people don't. As long as you've slept well that week you should be fine. Nerves and adrenaline will carry you on race day. Stop drinking water approximately 30 minutes before race start... that way you can avoid the huge port-a-potty lines at the start line. Get to the start early! Nothing is more disruptive to race day than being the last person to cross the start line.

8. Get a good support system. Marathon training will take over your life. It will suck away your free time and eventually your schedule and mental energy will be fully invested into this endeavor. Rally those around you to help. Warn your family and friends of what you are doing... explain that you will need a little grace during this time. You will probably feel tired and worn out at times and having people who will understand and maybe even offer to help you out when things get tough can be invaluable. Remember that not everyone will understand what you are doing... find people who do and lean on them when things get rough.

9. Last but not least... Have Fun! Marathons are tough.... there is a reason such a few percentage of people will ever actually accomplish one in their lifetime. Running a marathon was one of the most challenging things I have ever done but it was also one of the proudest moments of my life. Remember to smile and breathe and enjoy the moment. When you finish and that medal is hanging around your neck, it will all be worth it.

And if you are truly crazy awesome like me, you can take that medal and wear it every where you go for the next week, showing everyone just who you are... a marathon runner!

My newest addition to the Bling wall... the triple crown medal for completing three rock 'n roll races this year. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life should always be in bullet points

My life these past two weeks in 10 bullet points
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving with my family after coming home from Arizona.
  • Worked a ton.
  • Moved into my new house!
  • Picked a wedding date and have begun planning a wedding that will be very similar to this one.
  • Am amazed at how a wedding as simple as that can still cause so much drama. Why do weddings make people crazy?
  • Got sick... twice and am still recovering from a horrible cold. 
  • Watched my new 3D TV that Chris and I scored on black friday. 
  • Did some serious coupon shopping... more on that to come in a future post. 
  • Am amazed at the generosity of my new family... seriously I am the luckiest girl alive cause my future in-laws are the best.
  • And on that note I want you all to check out this video. My future sister in-law who is incredibly talented is trying to win a contest and she needs a lot more views for her video. Trust me it will be worth your time. This girl can sing!
Happy Monday Friends!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Civil War

 I am not one to trust easily. Nor have I ever been one to consider the willing and open surrender of your heart to another human being an easy task. At least not fully anyways. Sure I have friends and family that know me. I have best friends and people that have walked through the mud with me. People who know parts of me that are not so glorious... parts that aren't pretty. I think it's safe to say that there are a few... a select few... who truly see me... in ways that I probably don't fully know. Time will do that to you.... spend enough time walking through life with someone and you will inevitably see them in all types of moments. Good and bad.

If you stick around long enough and if people are genuine a bond is formed, a sort of intimacy. I think I always knew it.... actually, I am sure of it... that despite the incredible amounts of wonderful people in my life... people who have true depth to them... people who know me and who have history with me... despite the circle of friends and family around me... there was a sort of lacking that I did not quite understand.

Maybe it was the lack of family because surely it was not the lack of friends. When I made the decision to join my life with Chris I did not expect that it would be in this way. I don't think I ever could understand what it truly meant to trust someone in a way that required so much of myself. Mainly because I never could. I have spent so much of my life... if not all of it... building up walls and barricades... a fortress... a safe place to hide behind. It was easier that way. Painful maybe... but safe at least. Because true intimacy requires trust... it requires vulnerability... a risk of being damaged... again.... and again.

It means believing the best in that person more often than you're inclined to. It means admitting that you are not perfect... and that whether you want it to be true or not...  that you need the other person and that your life is so much better with them in it.  In these past months I have struggled with that... an internal war of sorts.

A civil war with the woman I once was and the woman I am still learning to be. A result of the love and wisdom and grace that being in a relationship with Chris has given me. There have been a lot of tough moments. A lot of tears and a lot of hurt. The growing pains of two people learning to trust and rely on each other in ways neither of us have done before. It has been difficult. Difficult... and completely worth every single moment.

I have never known a love like this. I have never known trust in this capacity. What I do know is that I love this person in a way I have not loved before. I know that I look into my future and I could not imagine it without him there. I know that this is a greater thing than anything I could have ever imagined for myself. Today I am happier than I could have ever imagined because today I said Yes.

I'm getting married!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life in bullet points...

1. I have been an inconsistent blogger lately. Life has just been too nuts. I would like to say that it will get better but it won't...

2. ...cause I am officially MOVING in less than two weeks :(

3. I found a house! (see bullet 2) I love my new house. Love it. Love it. Love it. Love it enough that moving over the holidays is worth it for this house. I have pictures of it somewhere but they aren't accesible now so all I will say is that it is 1,400 square feet of glory!

4. Recently I went on a date with Chris to an arcade. I spent probably close to 30 minutes playing this one game where its like a wheel of fortune type thing. You hit the button and whatever number the wheel stops at... thats the amount of tickets you get. 1,000 being the jackpot. 30 minutes... no jackpot. Chris on the other hand goes... "Let me try" and on his first hit gets 1,000. Seriously?!

5. Those 1,000+ tickets = me getting the biggest hello kitty doll ever. :) So worth being put to shame.
6. In about 12 hours I will be driving to Arizona with Chris and his cousin. It should take us about 14 hours or so to get there... let's pray I can stay awake and sane for the drive.

7. I am SO excited for black friday shopping this year. Mainly because of the fun things we will buy but also because it will be mine and Chris' one year anniversary! yay!

8. I cannot wait for Thanksgiving food!

9. This year I will be missing my favorite BFF Thanksgiving with the peeps and I am heartbroken :( but luckily there are things like facetime to help make it a little easier.

10. I passed my CCRN exam! About a month ago actually but I officially got the certificate in the mail yesterday! Yay!

What are you up to this week friends? Any fun Thanksgiving plans?!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day

 To all of the veteran's out there who have fought and sacrificed for our country. The service you have given us all never ceases to amaze me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate you.
This week was crazy and like very other week I had the privilege of caring for some of our nation's veterans.
After a long and tiring week where one of my patient's got a total of 2 hours of sleep and was teetering on the edge of health... he looked at me, tired and struggling to breathe and says,
"You know what Andi? You are a darn good nurse."

It made my day, knowing I could be there for a man who was probably at his worst and it's moments like that where I would not trade my job for any other in the world.

"You know what?" I said, "You're a darn good patient."
If you see a veteran or a soldier today... thank them. They absolutely deserve it. 
Have a fun and safe weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Today I am tired. After a four day stretch of 12 hour shifts your emotional and physical stores are virtually non-existent. They are worn thin at best. Working in the ICU is hard. It is draining in ways that I cannot fully explain. I have learned that because of my profession my life is different than most.

 This week I had the privilege of taking care of arguably the sweetest and dearest people I have ever met. A husband who is dying and a wife who has a love for her husband unlike any other I have seen. Everyone who had contact with them instantly fell in love. I know I did.

I have sat here at my computer for an hour trying to put into words what it was like witnessing that kind of love between two people but I have failed. There was a sweetness to them… an aura of the deepest type of caring. In the way she would smile at him and kiss his forehead… the way he would reach for her hand. How she would lay her head at his bedside for days on end… supporting… hoping… caring.

In the way they both decided that now was the time. That this man had lived a life full of joy with his person at his side… the woman he knew he would marry the second he laid eyes on her. And that now it was time to let go. Time to make that transition that all of us will eventually have to make.

Every morning before I would leave work I would stop by their room to say goodbye… just in case. I would hug them both and tell them that I loved them and he would kiss me on the cheek and she would squeeze me tightly and walk me down the hall. And every morning she would burst into tears.

One morning she came down the hall… tears streaming down her cheeks.

“How will I know?” she said. “What do I look for? He isn’t really talking much.”

So we went into the room together and we talked… I told her that it wasn’t time yet.

And right then and there she fell into my arms.

 “It’s like coming to the end of a jail sentence.” She said… the fear and pain was visible on her face.

Today Bethany and I went upstairs to the hospice unit to say hello and we talked… we looked at old photos of him in the service… of their life together. It was a perfect ending to a long week.

The first night I took care of him, when we decided it was time to stop heroic measures, he told me, “This is the best night I’ve had here yet… talking to you.”
I smiled and held his wife’s hand.  And as I said goodbye that morning he grabbed my hand tightly and smiled, “ I hope you have a blessed life dear. A life full of love like I have.”

And as I walked out of the hospital that morning, exhausted and teary eyed… I knew that my life had been touched. And that I am truly, truly blessed. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

7 quick takes Friday

--- 1 ---

Studying is not fun. I have been trying to cram for my CCRN exam (to become certified as a critical care nurse) and to put it plainly... it sucks. I have not been doing well on the practice exams which is incredibly frustrating because I only have a week or so left before the test. At this rate I honestly wonder how in the world I even made it through nursing school. I promise I'm not a horrible nurse, I'm just a horrible test taker.

--- 2 ---

I decided recently that I was going to go back to school for my bachelors degree. (As of right now I only have my ASN) Originally I had planned to go through Cal State Domniguez hills because its online and its geared for nurses who work full time. The program is about 3 years long if you take classes part time which is what I was planning on doing. Luckily my wonderful bff Bethany discovered a program through UT Arlington that offers the same degree with the same credentials but with half the amount of units required. End result = I only have to go to school for 15 months instead of 3 years. (Which I guess is the norm and Cal State DH is just unusually long) Yay for me!

--- 3 ---

I have discovered that the root of all evil is lack of sleep. Seriously there were two days last week were I got over 5 hours of sleep both nights and I literally felt like a different person. A less angry, less irritable, more energetic version of myself and I really enjoyed it. I'm pretty sure my co-workers did too.  Now this week.... a whole different story... back to grumpy Andi :P

--- 4 ---

This week we are trialing new TB isolation room masks. I was the lucky one stuck in the TB room for two days straight which meant that I got to look like a storm trooper for two days.. either that or one of those super sick kids who has to live in a bubble.

--- 5 ---

I finally joined the rest of the iphone user world and got the instagram app and I love it. Took this picture on a drive a few weeks ago and it makes me smile. I love where I live :)
--- 6 ---

This week I have officially met my favorite patient of all time. Him and his wife are truly the cutest and sweetest people I have ever met and they will be getting a post all of their own soon.
--- 7 ---
And since I have nothing else for you I will wish you all a wonderful weekend. My goal is too study and sleep like mad. YAY it's Friday!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Week in Pictures

The Pumpkin Patch!
Chris and I have decided to start getting creative with our date time. He decided to claim the name "Date Master" (which he states should be in all caps with the date master wearing a wizards hat and robe... my boyfriend is crazy cute)

So for my first pick I decided that we should go get pumpkins and carve them. We ended up taking one of his little brothers with us and it was super fun... we never did get to the carving part though... maybe if we get lucky, sometime before Halloween we will. :)

One of the fun things about it was driving through a huge corn field/maze to get to the entrance. Really glad we decided to go in the daytime. >_<
Then this weekend I ran a half marathon in Chris' hometown. (possibly my last one for the year)
The course was surprisingly gorgeous with lots of golden rolling hills and a lake that looked like glass.

The best part of the race though was the fact that I convinced Chris' little sister to run it with me.
This is her probably wanting to kill me at mile 7. haha poor thing. I was so proud of her for toughing it out though... 13.1 miles of rolling hills and with a hip injury at that!
The truly amazing thing about it was that this was her first half marathon and she finished with me at 3:01! I have a feeling this won't be her last race.

And everything else in between was filled with work and lots and lots of studying for my upcoming CCRN exam... more on that to come later.

Happy Tuesday Folks!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Control- and the lack thereof

*One of my favorite pictures from Ireland. The definition of slowing down to me is an Irishman strolling down a country road in the middle of no where. 

Life has been a little nutty for me recently (let's face it... when is my life not nutty these days?) I have had my fair share of meltdowns these past few months but recently for some reason my life (or really my to-do list/schedule) feels totally out of control. I have always known that I am a complete and utter control freak. Certified, Type-A, cannot trust anyone with anything Control Freak. It isn't healthy and I know this but I have found ways to channel it that are 'normal' and somewhat healthy and in the environment I work in.... being a control freak is expected and actually highly valued. When you are dealing with someone's life it doesnt hurt to be able to control your environment (or at least most of it).

I think this need for control comes from a lot of different factors. I think it is a big part of American culture to be this way and particularly in the area I live... control over your finances, your home, your schedule, your career, control over people... all of those things are sought after. I also think for me in particular... most of my life has been lived in chaos. Most of my life I have been in survival mode... scraping by with a below poverty level income and working insane hours just to get by. When I settled into nursing it took a while to let go of that "OMG one wrong move and it all goes to hell" mentality. 

And while the addition of a relationship in my life has been one of the best things that has happened to me this year... I have to admit that it has proven to be difficult in ways I didn't imagine. Learning to balance time with family, friends and Chris has been tough. Really tough actually. When I was single I had fine tuned the world around me to fit together really well. I had found ways to control my environment... invested in everything enough so that I had just enough time alone, a lot of time with my closest friends and I began really investing into running and marathon training. I excelled at work enough to make me feel secure in my job and excited about the challenge that being in the ICU offered. Now I have to re-organize it all again. I have to find where it all fits and it hasn't been easy. 

What has surprised me more than anything about being in a relationship though is that I think in many ways it has magnified just how much I thrive on having that control. I have never been a fan of having to rely on people... for the most part (minus my friends) people have never been reliable. Now here I am in a serious relationship and the control freak in me is screaming "THIS IS NOT SAFE!" It's tough folks... I just don't quite know where the balance is. More often than not I tend to lean on the independent side of things more than the co-dependent side. Still, emotionally sometimes I feel like if I can't keep everything (people included) packaged up in the nice, neat little box I placed them... I'm afraid it will all fall apart... and so will I for that matter. Trusting that people will be there... trusting people in general is not a strength of mine to say the least. 

One of these days I will hopefully figure it out... but in the meantime I will lace up my shoes and go for a run. After all... there are few things in this world that a good run can't fix. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vintage Bridal Shower

A few weeks ago I hosted a lovely bridal shower at my house for one of my favorite co-workers who just got married. It was really fun and I enjoyed being able to host everyone and decorate for the party. I have been loving all of the vintage inspiration thats out these days and I was eager to use some of my ideas for the shower. I'm learning that you don't have to do a ton of work to make things look good... its really about being creative with what you have.

I collect glass bottles and I love using them as vases and centerpieces. 
The Happy couple :)

I saw these letters in a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers Lola B's
I found which place made them and just had to get them. You can't really tell but the letters are glittery and super cute. You can order your own at Paper Co Designs on Etsy. 
I love my girls. Its always a bit easier to stay sane when you have silly co-workers. :)

It was a great night and I just love how easy it was to put it all together. Congrats again to Jen & Cole :) <3

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Blog Award!

The lovely Britt over at xox, b has given me the "I dig your blog award" Fun!
As per the award rules here are three random facts about me :)

1. I love to sing. I grew up in choir all through junior high and high school. As a matter of fact before I went into nursing I almost tried out for American Idol. So glad I didn't pursue music because I love nursing but now my patients are stuck hearing me sing along to the radio all the time. haha bummer for them.

2. As much as I love watching tv... (seriously Im hooked on like 15 different shows) I am not much of a movie person. In fact I finally saw Star Wars for the first time two weeks ago. Sad I know...

3. I hate peas. Like really really hate them. I hate them so much that if I have fried rice I will pick out every. single. last. one. Bleh, yucky peas.

Happy Thursday Folks... soon I will do a post on a very fun bridal shower (somewhat vintage themed) that I had recently for one of my fave co-workers. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The thing that is so awesome about life-long, best friends is that they never change. Well…. they may change and life may change but the role they hold never seems to waver. A woven thread that makes it’s way through the timeline of things. 

My friend Ami and I are like that. I have known her since 2003 and we have been together through marriages, babies, school, graduations, hard times and good times. I have seen this girl through the mud and she surely has seen me through the thick of it too. Her girls are like children of my own and it has never been a question that we consider each other as family.

They recently just made a drastic life change… moving from Colorado to Texas so that Ami’s husband Andrew could start seminary in Dallas. It had been about a year since I had last seen them so it was good to finally get a chance to catch up and visit with my girls. We always have the best time sharing and laughing and filling in the blanks of what has happened since we saw each other last.
 I can tell Ami anything. Even the things I am not so proud of… even the things I don’t share with anyone else. Ami knows it all and it has always been that way. Even if I know she doesn’t agree with me… and even if I know it would pain her to hear it… I know she won’t judge and I know that whatever the case… she always has my best interest at heart.

I love that girl and her whole family a lot. They are my family and I have always been so thankful for the wonderful, steady existence they have had in my life. I can’t wait until I see them again and whether it is in Texas or California… I know it will undoubtedly be great because life is always just a little better when they are in it. 

Until then I will have these awesome pictures and memories that will brighten my day and remind me of just how incredibly loved I am. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Welcome Surprise

Right now there is a patient on our unit that I can safely say everyone... and I mean everyone dreads taking care of. He is one of those typical VA patients I speak of so often. He decided to get open heart surgery despite having active substance abuse problems. Can't quite remember if he actually told his surgeons about it before he went under the knife but all I can say is that as a result this man has been in the hosital for a long, long time. I'm talkin' months here. This man has been intubated and extubated and re-intubated multiple times. He has fought through multiple infections and bouts of sepsis. He has been so close to death and come through to the other side and is now on the verge of actually being transfered out of our unit. It's kind of a miracle, as a matter of fact.

He has also been one of the downright meanest people I have ever taken care of. He has called me and every other nurse who works with him pretty much every name in the book. He swears at you constantly and has even spit at people and tried to kick and hit them also. I'm tellin' you... this man is a real gem... and get this... his family members are even worse. These days people dread taking care of him more because of his family members than him and that's saying a lot! I even heard one of the nurses say today, "I would pay charge nurse $100.00  not to get that assignment!" I have to admit that I completely agreed with her.  

For the past two weeks I have had an assignment that was next door to his. I would walk by the room and politely smile and nod to him and his family... trying to have as little contact as possible while still remaining professional and courteous. Well, today as I passed by his room I saw him sitting up in bed, smiling and talking to his wife. Side note: he has not been able to talk the entire time I have taken care of him, he was either intubated or had a tracheotomy (which he still has). So I have never heard his voice. I have just read his lips this entire time because that was his only way of communicating.
When a patient has a trach they can't talk unless the tube that you see in this picture is able to be capped off and the patient can breathe on their own. It is a long process for someone who has been so critically ill to get to this point and it takes a lot of speech therapy and rehab too.
So back to today... As I pass by his room, I smile and wave at him and his wife. Then suddenly, just as I step out of his sight, I hear this deep, raspy, "Hello!" in response. I stopped dead in my tracks and backpedaled to his room, "Whoa!! Mr. X, I've never heard your voice before!!"

Something in me jumped at that moment and I knew he could see the genuine surprise on my face. Instantly, all the feelings of frustration and annoyance with this patient dissipated and I realized how much I actually cared about this man. He smiled at me like the Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland and we began to have an actual polite, civilized conversation about how much better he is doing and how exciting it is that he can actually talk now. Seriously, I just could not believe how different this man seemed. I have heard stories of recovered patients who come back to the unit as completely different people. People who were once horrible to their care givers are actually really wonderful when they aren't in the hospital. I know that people are often the worst version of themselves during times of sickness and severe stress but I just have never seen it in such a clear way.

I don't care if you are Mother Theresa... when someone calls you horrible names and swears at you and tries to physically assault you when all you are trying to do is take care of them... its hard not to build some apathy towards that person at the very least. I mean we're all human and even the best nurses have their limit. I definitely hit mine with Mr. X. Yet today none of that mattered. Today all I saw was a beautiful smile from a man that was finally able to use his voice.
It truly was a breath of fresh air and if I'm being really honest this guy totally made my day. It definitely was a welcomed surprise. :)

Friday, September 2, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday

1. It has been a long week and it isn't over yet. My sleep schedule has been way off and it has really made this week exhausting. I have said it before and I will say it again... working night shift is tough. People often times are inconsiderate of your sleep schedule and you feel jet-lagged 24/7. Most people don't seem to understand that waking up in the middle of the day is the equivalent of you waking up at 2am and not being able to go back to sleep... and then having to go work a 12 hour shift in the ICU. Yeah... not fun. Luckily I have only one more 8 hour shift left and then I can hopefully catch up a bit on some Z's. :)

2. This past Tuesday it was my birthday and that unfortunately has contributed to my lack of sleep. I hate working on my birthday so I asked for that day off that way I could go to dinner with some close work friends instead of getting spit on like previous years. In order to get my full amount of work in though I had to work night shift the days before and after my birthday. Having one day off in between a stretch of work is horrible being a night shifter because if you mess your sleep patterns up you are basically screwed the whole week.... but that also means you spend your one day off being up all night while everyone else is sleeping. :/

3. I promise that I won't talk about sleep anymore during this post.

4. My birthday was incredibly fun and the celebrating isn't over yet. This weekend I will be heading to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with some of my favorite people in this world. We will spend the day on fun rides and rollercoasters and will also enjoy the oh-so-yummy junk food the boardwalk has to share. It should be fun. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post after. :)
California, United States: A view over the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California, United States
5. This past weekend I ran my first half marathon since becoming a marathon maniac. It was held in San Francisco and was a charity race sponsored by The SF Giant's for Project Open Hand. The course was along the same road that the SF marathon began on, The Embarcadero. Best part of the race had to be meeting Brian Wilson and running it with some of my favorite running buddies. Actually I almost dropped down to the 10k distance but luckily my running buddies convinced me to stick with them and finish the full 13.1 mile distance. So glad I did too. Good times indeed.

6. I have been getting back into yoga lately. I bought a groupon for 25 yoga classes in my area and I'm excited to get back into practice. I have been fascinated with a form of yoga called Ashtanga Yoga. It's really cool and people who are really good at it can do things like this...

7. One of the reasons I decided to run multiple marathons this summer was because the more events you do with the Rock n' Roll Marathon Series, the more medals you get. This week I got my "Rock Encore" medal in the mail for running the RnR Seattle and San Diego marathon! This thing is heavy and large and super sparkly and I totally debated on wearing it to work that day. Don't worry... I didn't :)
Happy Friday Friends! Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Working in a veteran's hospital you see a lot of things. A lot of substance abuse, mental health issues and alcoholism... PTSD is rampant in our patient population. It can be a rough place to work sometimes. It wears you down. People are bitter and angry and broken... lost and many times forgotten. 

It is not uncommon to have patients in our unit that have no visitors during their entire hospital stay. It is also very common to have families with very complicated backgrounds and delicate family dynamics. Often times we are not only caring for our patients but we are caring for their families too.  I think one of the reasons I fell in love with the VA is because of the people. One of my deepest passions in life is to show people their value and their worth. I think that is one of the things I have always valued about my faith also. Jesus was a man who loved people... the worst people too. The rejects and marginalized people that no one else wanted to fight for... he fought for them. 

If anything I hope that would be the one thing I can show people. That they are worth it. That they are valued... but most of all, that they are loved. 95% of the time it is not easy working with the patients in my hospital. There are moments though where it clicks and the 5% makes up for the rest. The moments where I am able to step outside of my own crap and realize that these guys are just hurting, broken people who need good care... those are the moments that matter.

I had a patient last week who was unlike the others. This patient had a large, close family. This patient did not have substance abuse in his background. He was a physician and a professor at a very prestigious medical school in the area. Still he chose to come to the VA for his care. His wife was saying how much he appreciated the care he received at the VA and she expressed how grateful she was too. Through foggy, tearful eyes she stroked her dying husband's hair and told him to keep fighting... and that she loved him more than anything in this world. She said that he was her best friend and that she was so grateful for everything he had given her in their life together. The love she had for that man was pouring through every tear she cried and the pain she was feeling was tangible.

It broke my heart and I had a hard time holding it together as I managed the care of this extremely sick man. She asked me how long I had been working in the unit and asked if I liked my job.
I stopped what I was doing because I wanted her to know how much I meant what I was about to say. 

"I love my job. It is an honor to serve these guys. They truly have given so much and the fact that we are able to cater to our veteran's in such a specific way really is so special. I love knowing that we can give back in that way... and especially that we can give such good care to people who often times are not appreciated or understood. I really love what I do and even on the hard days I am still grateful that I have a job where I can show someone that they are valued by the care that I give."

She looked at me and smiled ever so slightly as tears began to fall down her cheeks. 
In the midst of an incredibly exhausting week it was a 5% moment and even now... days later it brings a bittersweet joy to my heart and it reminds me of just how lucky I am.